East Africa Journalist Defence Network

You are here: Home Press News & Highlights Media partners strike deal with house committee on changes to media law.

Media partners strike deal with house committee on changes to media law.

 December 4, 2013

By ALLY JAMAH,Standard Media.

Kenya Media stakeholders on Tuesday night struck a deal with Parliament’s Energy, Information and Communication Committee to introduce key changes to two controversial media bills that have attracted public outrage. Under the deal between Media Council of Kenya and the committee, ethical conduct of journalists and media enterprises will now be handled by the Independent Complaints Commission of the Media Council rather than the proposed Communication and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal as put in the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Bill.

The controversial tribunal will only regulate infrastructure issues such as signal licensing and distribution, courier and postal services and telecommunications. Industry players were Tuesday focusing on mobilising Members of Parliament to raise the two-thirds members required to push for the amendments on the piece of legislation that was returned to Parliament by President Uhuru Kenyatta and that will be debated and voted on today. Vice Chairman of Kenya Editors’ Guild David Ohito said there was goodwill from the committee and expressed hope that MPs will be persuaded to turn up in Parliament to support the changes.

Other amendments include the constitution of the tribunal that will be a selection panel made up of media industry members after which names of the chairperson and members will be forwarded to the Cabinet Secretary for gazetting. “The independence of the tribunal has been guaranteed in both the selection process and removal,” said Grace Munjuri of Media Council of Kenya. The council’s CEO Harun Mwangi said the fines of Sh20 million for media houses and half a million for journalists – as had been proposed in the KICA Bill – will remain but will not touch on the code of conduct for the practice of journalism. Training institutions He said that the fines will only apply to persons and media enterprises that contravene the provisions of the KICA law. However, it is not clear yet which violations are anticipated there.

With regard to the Media Council Bill 2013, the two sides agreed that the decisions made by the Media Council could only be appealed in the High Court and not through the Communication and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal under the KICA law. Ms Munjuri added that provisions for setting professional standards in journalism have been tightened, allowing the council to set training standards and curriculum for middle-level journalism training institutions. She said the Complaints Commission of the Media Council will be more independent.

On Tuesday journalists from across the country took to the streets to protest against the controversial law. They criticised the proposed amendments to the Bill, which was returned to Parliament by President Uhuru Kenyatta, arguing that the corrections are more punitive to the industry. In Nairobi, journalists staged a demonstration in the CBD and faulted Uhuru for retaining the contentious clauses in his proposed amendments. They accused the Jubilee administration of being insensitive to the media industry, contrary to what the leaders of the coalition had pledged during election campaigns. The protests, which began outside the Nation Centre, made their way to Parliament Buildings through the busy Kenyatta, Moi and Harambee avenues.

At the President’s office, a petition presented on behalf of the journalists by Editors Guild vice chair Ohito and Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) chairman Janak Oloo was received by Munyori Buku (Director, Public Communications), Dennis Itumbi (Director, Digital) and Mwenda Njoka (Director, Communications for the Interior ministry) on behalf of the President.

This Article originally appeared on www.standardmedia.com.It has been updated to reduce content

rapid ssl seal"This website was developed with financial assistance from European Union. However, the contents do not represent the position of EU."

Where We Work  ||  What we do  ||  EAJDN Project  ||  Photo Gallery ||  Our Partners